Bedroom tax will hit 5,000

NEWS: News.
NEWS: News.

ALMOST 5,000 households in Doncaster will be hit by a controversial new ‘bedroom tax’, costing householders hundreds of pounds, according to new figures.

The National Housing Federation says 4,822 households in the town will be hit by the tax, losing on average £728 per year.

The controversial new tax, being introduced in April means residents receiving housing benefit will have their benefits cut if they are deemed to have a spare bedroom in their council or housing association home.

They will be forced to pay tax on their spare bedroom or move into a smaller home.

Worst hit in Doncaster are those living in the Don Valley parliamentary constituency area, with 1,699 households affected, ahead of Doncaster North, 1,580 and Don Valley, 1,543.

A total of 3,038 of those hit by the tax are thought to be households containing a resident with a disability.

Ros Jones, Labour candidate in May’s mayoral election, claimed she had seen a study compiled by a local social housing provider which raised serious concerns - such as a lack of available properties for those having to downsize.

She said it could take 16 years to re-house all the affected families, even if no new applications for housing were made.

“David Cameron’s Bedroom Tax will hammer families in Doncaster already struggling to make ends meet, and could actually risk costing local tax-payers a fortune in higher private rents and covering the cost of driving people out of their homes.

“At the same time analysis by our local social housing providers shows it simply isn’t deliverable here – where are all the affected households supposed to go?”

Andy Kerr, chairman of the Doncaster Federation of Tenants and Residents Associations, said, his organisation was totally opposed the bedroom tax.

He said: “Our concern is there are a lot of people in Doncaster who cannot afford it.

“The houses are just not there in Doncaster to move them to.

“We are definitely concerned about this, and we have had several special meetings about it. We are going around all the tenants and residents associations explaining what it means.”

Officers from St Leger Homes have been visiting council tenants who are affected and offering support.

Peter Davies, Mayor of Doncaster said he disagreed with the policy.

“The problem for council house tenants in Doncaster is that we simply do not have the housing stock available to enable people to move to smaller properties if they have spare bedrooms,” he said.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “We are providing councils across Yorkshire and the Humber with more than £10 million this year to support people and vulnerable groups who might be affected by these changes.

“We need to ensure a better use of social housing when thousands of tenants are living in overcrowded homes and many more are on housing waiting lists across the country.”

He said the housing benefit bill was now £23 billion a year and tenants in social housing who were living in homes larger than they needed would have to make a contribution towards their rent or move to more appropriately sized accommodation.

Those who don’t want to move would be able to make up the shortfall in rent through other means, such as moving into work, increasing working hours, or taking in a lodger, he added.

In South Yorkshire more than 113,000 households live in overcrowded accommodation, according to the DWP, while in Doncaster there are 11,521 names on the waiting list for housing.